Broken Heart Syndrome: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?

Two parts of broken heart

Valentine’s Day may be over, but some may have felt the sting of Cupid’s curse. So, as the 1960s love song would ask, “What becomes of the broken hearted?”

The good news is, you can recover from a broken heart. But the medical condition known as ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’ is REAL.  This temporary condition, known to medics as takotsubo cardiomyopathy (TCM) or stress-induced cardiomyopathy, is often triggered by an extreme emotional or physical experience, specifically, heart break, death of a loved one, sudden illness, natural disasters, or other life-altering traumatic events.

Broken heart syndrome primarily affects women between the ages of 62-76.  The symptoms include chest pain and difficulty breathing which mimic those of a heart attack and can occur suddenly after an emotional stressor.

Headshot of Thomas Johnston

“We see this from time to time, so we will perform a myriad of tests to first rule out the potential of blockages in the arteries that supply blood to the heart,” says Centennial Heart cardiologist, Dr. Thomas S. Johnston at TriStar Centennial Medical Center.  “At that point, we will address any stress factors and emotional stressors that may have caused the patient’s heart condition.”

While broken heart syndrome does weaken the heart’s muscle and can initially cause a characteristic change in the shape of the heart, it is reversible. Most patients recover quickly with supportive treatment, rest and relaxation.

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